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Campaign Finance Reform

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Getting the Money Out of Politics

In today’s deeply divided political culture, it often seems difficult to find any issue to agree on.

But there is one: Nearly everyone seems to think there is way too much money in politics.

Many are dumbfounded by the amount of cash it takes to get elected to office. And each new election cycle seems to set another new record high.

In 2012, the two main presidential campaigns each spent over $1 Billion. And the total spending for all campaigns in that year is believed to be over $7 Billion. That’s more than $150 for every American currently receiving food stamps. And it would take about 3500 people, all working a full 40 year career to produce that much.

Clearly, that money could be put to a much better use. So why don’t we?

Over the years, various methods have been proposed or attempted for campaign finance reform. But these are no more effective than trying to stop the tide with a broom.

The economic forces in play do seem nearly as powerful as the weight of the ocean. People just want so badly to get themselves and their friends elected. And they are willing to spend big money in order to accomplish it.

The real answer to this problem is so simple, it is staring us in the face. Yet, it often evades us:

If you want to get the money out of politics, just get the money out of government.

If you didn’t get the impact of that statement, try reading it again. Keep reading it, over and over, until it sinks in. It is simple, but profound.

Federal spending, in 2016 alone, is expected to be nearly $4 Trillion. That’s over $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. And if you are in power, you get to decide how and where it will be spent.

Every business lining up to get its piece of the pie has a vested interest in keeping power in the hands of its own closest allies. The result is a corruption of the system that is not in the best interests of the American people.

When our country was founded, most domestic problems were dealt with at State and local levels. The Federal government was established primarily to provide the States with a unified foreign policy and a strong national defense. This is the “republic” form of government guaranteed by the Constitution.

Back then, patriots like George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson served their country at great personal sacrifice. Then, they voluntarily laid down power to return to their lives in the private sector.

But as more and more responsibilities have fallen under the federal budget, the resulting concentration of money and power has become irresistible to some of the worst among us. Today, too many of our elected officials have become incredibly wealthy by exploiting their public offices. Some of the richest communities in the country are now those surrounding Washington DC.

If we continue concentrating more power and money at the federal level, we should not be surprised to find people are willing to spend more and more money in order to control it. Likewise, we can not expect to see a turn toward greater integrity in the political process until we find a way to de-centralize federal power and return much of this control to state and local governments.